Dear Footprint Family,
Hope everyone was able to relax during the holidays, and wishing everyone an amazing start to 2023!
I’m not sure how to properly end the year in which we created Footprint. I definitely know a lot more now than I did back in December 2021. Nothing instills confidence like ignorance at the beginning, and with each day we realize how much more there is for us to learn. In the words of Albert Einstein, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.”
But at the same time, when we look at what we used to worry about, we realize that our problems of today were our dreams of yesterday. Our optimism laced with that above-described ignorance propelled us where we wanted to go. Personal baselines--for knowledge and worries--constantly change. And nothing energizes me more going forward than getting better and knowing what we can do with that new knowledge. I could not be more excited for this new year. There is so much we’re going to do.
I’m breaking this update into two parts: our December Update, and then our Year-End Review (which I am linking here).
This update is about Carl Jung’s concept of the Shadow Self. As discussed in the linked 2022 review, I’m quite proud of where Footprint stands right now. The future is very bright.
But I’m also far from satisfied, or comfortable. When I wrote the first draft of this in mid-Dec, I stared at my priority to-do list. It had four things under Footprint deal with today, three for Footprint “tomorrow”, and two for my fun personal list. None of them are fun—I promise. I’d love to remove them all from it. Or would I?
You Have What You Want
Jung is tough to explain (I’m slowly working through one of his tomes my therapist told me about—shout out mental health). After many futile attempts by me to succinctly describe this, I came across a wonderful, short blog on the subject by a Substack user named Ava (whom I totally stole the title of this update from). Sharing an excerpt here:
One thing I strongly believe is that you have what you want. Another way of phrasing it: you want what you choose. Even if, and sometimes especially if, what you choose is an impediment to your flourishing.
In Jungian psychology there is the idea of the shadow self, the part of your personality that is unknown to your conscious brain. This is the half of you that desires what your conscious self refuses to acknowledge. For instance: you might want love, but part of you might also want pain (so you choose relationships that hurt you). You might want to be independent, but you might also want to be taken care of (so you sabotage your own attempts at autonomy).
We love to convince ourselves that things are circumstantial. Like, I love painting, but I don’t paint anymore because I’m too busy. Like, I’m not really happy with my suburban life, but I’m trapped in it indefinitely. But what if these things aren’t circumstantial? Instead of blaming the external world, imagine believing that some part of me wanted and chose this. Another part of you might resist it, but that’s the nature of getting what you want: it’s not perfect, and you’re almost always conflicted. The conflict is not a sign that you don’t have what you want. The conflict is a sign that different parts of you want different things, and you have what best satisfies the most important part of you.
I can say I am stressed by my to-do list. And I am to a degree. But this is what I signed up for a year ago. This isn’t me saying that with self-pity of you have to take the bad with the good; it is me saying that with a smile that I signed up to get to be really good at putting out fires and solving whatever comes my way. I think we need our own philosophies in life. We tell ourselves stories to make sense of the world and our place in it. Sometimes those stories conflict with the reality we chose and that is ok.
Ava’s example of the second paragraph above is a friend who always had crushes on unavailable women. Another quote from her Substack:
Specifically, unavailable in this tantalizing way where they seemed like they were almost about to reciprocate his feelings, almost ready for a committed relationship. One day he was telling me about the latest in this series and I said, you like it when girls are unavailable. No, he said, I just like strong women, and strong women often aren’t looking for relationships. I replied, no, you like this particular dynamic. That’s why you choose it over and over.
This is actually the first paragraph in the Substack, before the three above, but I like introducing them in this order to illustrate a second point. Yes, her friend has what he wants. But, he also has a philosophy that allows him to claim to her that he doesn’t have what he wants. It is the symbiosis of those two that make him whole. In life, we think every action must have a true impetus. Or at least a justification. But humans aren’t rational actors. This point on philosophy is also the only original thought I contribute to Ava’s amazing work on the shadow self, so I thought I needed a few sentences of my thinking before ChatGPT answers the prompt “Write an Eli from Footprint style investor update on the shadow self.”
Perhaps this intersection—of our self-given narratives to our lives avoiding confrontation with the secret desires of our shadow self—is a return to one of my favorite subjects: paradoxes. These are two opposing concepts that find a strange armistice in our minds. Perhaps this truce shows because we are so bad at accepting paradoxes and so unable to live in grey areas that we instead reside in two perpendicular moments. But that is also ok.
I was stressed back in November, yet my list of tangible items stressing me out was much shorter. For, I’m likely calmer this last month because it is not the chaos I avoid—I actually like it. Rather, it is finding the accompanying philosophy. I don’t feel stressed going into 2023. I appreciate the weight of the moment, but am excited to hopefully rise to it. (Note: a week after writing the first draft here, five of the six today stress items were already resolved).
Or, to make one pop culture reference to prove to my team that I am cool and genuinely took time off last week, we see a manifestation of this in the relationships of Cameron and Daphne as well as Ethan and Harper in season 2 of The White Lotus. We may not be happy once we get the things we’ve always wanted, because subconsciously perhaps those were not our true or fully sincere yearnings which needed satiation. Likewise, desires can come from a multitude of origins.
I think it’s good that we live with both of these concepts—the shadow self and then our own philosophies—existing in their own vacuums. In a way, if the two meshed too much we would be at too great of peace. If we thought we had what we wanted than I think we’d lose motivation for better—as things can always be better. But know we do things due to these goals, and that when we examine the integral it is positive because we realize we do have the progress towards those goals we consciously want and subconsciously contort ourselves to pursue. Conquering this subject to me though doesn’t mean that I am tranquil because everything happens for a reason, it’s just my belief that beneath our complaints we often times have what we want. And it’s why I’ve been so productive the last few weeks because instead of trying to resolve the shadow, I’m just living by a simple philosophy.
I think this mantra goes for companies. It’s not that as a company we necessarily have what we want—we always want more. But I think companies exercise this exact symbiosis and paradox I describe above. The mission may not match the first product. A failure to meet an impossible deadline is a purposefully repeated task instead of gliding by easier wins. Those who join startups may talk about the hectic nature and sprints, but we want it.
Or maybe this makes less sense than I thought. Just my love note to chaos. Or a self-realizing ode of why I love it so much. There’s no where I’d rather be than this journey of vicissitudes. Here’s to 2023 :).
Goals From Last Month
Make 1 hire on frontend
- I think we will have very good news to announce here next month—if not for the holidays slowing down reference check calls think would be here
Continue to get companies in sandbox to get live feedback
- Not much feedback in Dec with the holidays, with the exception of adding dark mode as design due to a company request
🤞go-live with vendors and launch Footprint Live
- Done 🎉
Add device/user/browser fingerprint into our decisioning + dashboard
- Changed priorities for this feature until early Q1, devoted energy on risk/fraud side to core decision this month
Improve our Footprint embedded integration to make the UX even more seamless
- shipped! as soon as you type an an email or phone number for a person with an existing “footprint”, the flow magically recognizes you and makes onboarding even more seamless
- Demo video coming soon!
Launch Selfie + Document scans as part of our embedded IDV flow
- Made great progress and will be releasing this in our next update later in January
- We accelerated the development of a core security feature and built an MVP of our Vault Proxy
- Launched our new website!
Goals For this Month
Company Top Focus
- Launch Footprint Live — our first production-ready, hot data, version of Footprint capable of verifying portable identities (including doc + selfie scan)
Other Product Goals
- Continue to move ongoing data vendor contracts forward and integrate their APIs into sandbox
- Basic IAM for API keys + humans
- Meaningful progress on PCI certification
- Bring in one knight in shining armor/frontend engineer
- As we prepare to go live by the end of this month, we would love to offer a discount to Footprint as a perk to your portfolio company. For those of you that offer them, we’d love to extend an offer of 1000 free verifications for three months on Footprint.
- Starting next month, this part of the update will be on top of my introduction. I kept it in this order for this month to break up the year-end review, but going forward will keep the most relevant part to the company on top.
- One other point on the updates. While I will continue to post the bulk of them on our website in our commitment to build in public, that will continue to happen on a delay and metrics/some other information will be privileged to just our current investors who get this email on the email@example.com email.
Where We Could Use Help
- Including full list of intros we’re looking for here
- Including below some intros we are looking for:
- This month’s criteria —all about company intros!
- Series C+ Customer Intro: 4.5
- Series B Customer Intro: 4
- Series A Customer Intro: 3.5
- Seed Customer: 3 points
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